Exploring the Vast Array of Artist Pens

by Judy Gula

Exploring the Vast Array of Artist Pens

by Judy Gula

Our most recent “How Do I Use This?” topic was Choosing the Right Pen. I knew there were customers just like me who were curious about which pen is best for which surface, or wondered how to choose among the wealth of options there are out there.

Experimenting with a wide variety of pens

So as I explored pens to prepare for our demonstration, I was blown away anew by the amazing choices! The Artistic Artifacts shop carries PITT Artist Pens and Stamper’s Big Brush Pens by Faber-Castell, Krylon Metallic Leafing Pens, a variety of pens by Sakura, and German Glitter Pens and Pearl Pens from Viva —all of which I had never used.

Why would I? I have never been very confident in my drawing and journaling abilities. But with the explosion of stencil patterns, paint and now pens, I’m finding that it is getting much easier to fake my way through drawing and journaling, and the new products mean I am enjoying it so much more!

So, as I see it the challenges of pens are how does the “ink” flow? What surfaces can it cover? How does the pen work on a plain surface versus a painted one? Plus the most important, challenge of finding the perfect white pen.

For my White Pen Challenge (pictured below) I used a black tag and a selection of white pens you can see my test section below.

Comparing opaque white pens

The Uni-ball Signo Broad Gel Pen will be my go-to white pen, followed by the Gelly Roll Soufflé Opaque Puffy Ink Pen, Stamper’s Big White Pen by Faber-Castell and then Sharpie fine. (The sharpie white pen will write on an olive oil-soaked wooden printing block!)

Adding pen doodles and Gelatos color to a stenciled design

For the above page in my art journal, I used a stencil from The Crafters Workshop with Stewart Gill Purple paint. The left side is as-is; on the right side I used many Gelly Roll Metallic and Soufflé pens to create additional patterns within the painted stencil pattern. The overal background color consists of several colors of Gelatos with a bit of water to blend. Because the Gelatos are diluted with water, the ink of the pens acted as a resist.

Journal print of free-hand plate

Above is a print from last week’s blog using the round Gelli Arts™ Gel Printing Plate and water based paint. It definitely needed more! Below is after I added VIVA glitter pen, yellow Soufflé and white Uni-ball.

Stenciled monoprint embellished with pens and glitter

When I first began using the Soufflé I did not realize that you had to wait a bit until the color showed up. (It very clearly states that fact on the packaging if you read...I'm not known for reading directions first!) So at first I was disappointed... but I love them now! They were a big hit with the attendees last Thursday!

Using a Pitt Big Brush pen to color a rubber stamp

Above, I wanted to experiment with applying the Pitt Big BrushPens (which contains India ink) to a rubber stamp, replacing the need for a stamp pad...it worked great!

Then I had to try experimenting with some of the pens on fabric:

left, pens on fabric before washing, right the results after washing

Left side is the unwashed sample and the right side the washed. I ironed the samples before tossing them in water and a bit of detergent. The S in Sharpie ran a bit, but everything else was unaffected by the water.

Pen samples on black tag

Here are some documentation samples that were created by one of our students in last Thursday’s “How Do I Use This?” session. It’s always a good idea to make notes to yourself so that you remember what pen (or other product) left what mark or effect.

I’m off to finishing packing for Art & Soul, which takes place September 29 - October 5 at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel in Virginia Beach, VA. I hope many of you are planning to attend...Glenny Moir created this event, one of the first ever creative retreats, in 1999, and they are an amazing experience.

Artistic Artifacts serves as the on-site store....if you are attending, please stop by to say hi! pen samples on white

And if you were not able to attend this year, but live anywhere in the vicinity, you can visit the hotel to shop at the Artistic Artifacts “pop-up” satellite store even if you are not registered for Art & Soul!

P.S. Remember, the Artistic Artifacts store at 4750 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304 will be closed to customers from Thursday, September 25 through Monday, September 29 due to parking lot resurfacing. The shop reopens on Tuesday, September 30.

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